Locavore shows off bounty of region

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Jimmy Ludwig of Marquette buys a tomato plant from Kathryn Little of Lake Effect Farms during Saturday’s Locavore Festival.

HOUGHTON — Saturday’s Locavore Festival drew hundreds of people to the Houghton waterfront with fresh locally produced foods, arts and music.

This year’s festival expanded to more than 40 vendors, about 10 more than last year.

Amy Zawada, Houghton’s community and business development director, was still getting inquiries as she was laying out the map early last week.

“I think maybe we’ll go to 50 next year,” she said.

The weekend is a chance for people to browse some of the top farmers and artisans in the area in advance of the start of farmer’s market season. While the farms made up the biggest vendors, Saturday offered something for everybody, Zawada said.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Leena Rawashdeh of Houghton and Abigail Sanford of Hancock shop for plants at the Minnie Farms booth during Saturday’s Locavore Festival.

“Kids can get their face painted,” she said. “There’s tamales, honey, maple syrup, plant starts. You can get a bagel with cream cheese. There’s tons of stuff — home decor, jewelery. It’s all good, and it’s all totally local.”

From the Ground Farmer’s Market Collective, which organized the festival last year, maintained a presence with a booth where they answered people’s questions about the farmers markets and how people can use their food access programs. The collective hosts markets in Houghton, Hancock and Calumet.

From the Ground can accept up to seven food access programs, such as SNAP or EBT. People with questions can come to their table at the farmer’s market, where they can exchange swipe cards for tokens, or take coupons.

“Then we do all the backend facilitation of exchanging that back to cash with our vendors, said co-manager Amanda Makela. “We just to try hopefully make it as easy as possible to make getting the food equitable for everybody, regardless of if they’re coming for fun or if they’re coming for their family meals.”

It had been a great day for people to hear the music, feel the sunshine and get excited for the season, Makela said.

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Dead North’s bluegrass set entertained the crowd at the Locavore Festival, drawing several dancers to the front.

“It’s such a great vibe today,” she said. “The community really comes out. It’s fun to see how busy it gets, and to get excited for the summer in the Keweenaw in general.”

Thanks in part to the warm winter, there was a lot of produce for this early in the season, said Jenn Reed of Minnie Farms of Calumet. Reeds was selling herbs, aquaponic lettuce and starts for tomato, cilantro and rhubarb.

“Aside from the wind, it’s been an awesome turnout,” she said. “We’ve sold a lot of veggies and a lot of veggie starts.”

Reed, whose farm is part of the From the Ground collective, has participated both years.

“It reminds people that farmers markets happen here,” she said. “And it actually is a great networking opportunity, so we meet new people, see similar faces, and then get signups on our CSA.”

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Crowds enjoy the Locavore Festival at the Waterfront Pier in Houghton Saturday.

At the Lake Effect Farms booth, people had been buying a lot of tomatoes, peppers and lettuce, said Kathryn Little. The farm will be at the Houghton and Calumet markets this year, and also have a stand at the Gaslight in Copper Harbor.

“This festival is really important for us because we always bring plant starts here,” she said. “We always start extra just so we have enough for the farm and then people can buy what they want to grow at home. So that gives us a good jumpstart for the season.”

Jimmy Ludwig of Marquette had heard about the festival from people who had gone last year. Staying down the street, when he saw people setting up, he decided to stop by.

“I love it,” he said. “We have a great outdoor farmer’s market in Marquette, so we’re big fans. We try to support local.”

He picked up an indigo cherry tomato plant at Lake Effect Farms’ stand.

“It’s what I’ve been looking for, and we found it,” he said. “Now we’ve just got to get it back to Marquette safely.”

Reed’s caveat of “aside from the wind” was echoed by everyone Saturday.

Or almost everyone.

For the mother-and-daughter arts and crafts duo Moda-Vations, the conditions were perfect for a product demo. People who walked by admired the dreamcatchers and wind chimes surrounding their booth.

Kara Stahl cuts the glass and puts it in a rock tumbler until the edges are smooth. The beads she gets from a store in Washington that she fell in love with when she lived there. The driftwood comes from the Lake Superior shoreline. She uses hemp rope for the strength.

Saturday’s experience had been “absolutely amazing,” Stahl said.

“It’s been better than last year,” she said. “We have several customers, and we have repeat customers that come. So it’s nice to see people again.”


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